Many times during the week, I find myself driving by the homeless men nearby my neighborhood. When I pick up my groceries from Sam’s club, I take a slow turn right over the homeless camp built in the sewer drainage during dry times. I’ve seen many of the same men over and over again for years. There was one man I hadn’t seen in a while this Lent as I turned off the frontage road recently.
I thought to myself ‘I know him, how does he look so familiar, and wow he looks healthy today. I hope he is doing well.’ But then a thought of horror flashed through my mind as I thought, ‘I do know him yet if he was in persona Jesus and I was walking up to the gates of heaven, would he know me? Would he say, when I was hungry you fed me, naked and you clothed me hungry and you fed me?’ (Mathew 25)
The Dagger of Lenten Convictions
A dagger of guilt clung to my heart. After all it is Lent, shouldn’t I be doing more to care for those in need. How can I keep driving by, only keeping these men and women in my prayers as I drive over their ramshackle houses. But what can I do, when it feels that I barely have time or money to feed and clothe the naked in my own home. Oh the agony!
Another convicting thought this lent was that the children in my own home are hungry, spiritually hungry. And that I need to help feed their souls. Like the homeless on the street who don’t know how to live in a permanent home anymore, the spiritual opportunities offered to my children frequently seem to become trampled under foot.
Putting the Gospel to the Test at Home
In spite of my failed attempts, I have been persevering in testing different ways to feed my children food that will bring forth spiritual growth. Aferall, it’s my job as their mother. This lent I am grateful to have found success in teaching my children about the Saints through “Glory Stories” CD’s loaned to me by my friend Natalie. Now that we have finished the helpings of the Saints, my children are begging to be fed with more Saint stories. Each story is a 10 minute car ride to school where my captive audience has little else to do. They didn’t complain because they were compelling and made for family consumption.
Another area for spiritual food has been the Rosary. Now my family has been praying the entire rosary daily for the past year, I have found that our praying the rosary has been largely just SAYING the rosary. I have been coming up dry at the end of the well and that has led me to great disappointment.
I decided to stop and rework how we pray. After watching this video by the CFR’s, How to REALLY Pray the Rosary I decided to introduce the scriptural Rosary to increase contemplation. The first night of attempting to do just one scriptural decade was met with a variety of responses. My husband was mad at me for changing the routine, one daughter was excited to be more engaged by reading scripture, my older son was stressed because he had to read, and my most difficult child screamed over the scripture each time we tried to read it. So it was a bit of hell.
Heading to the Boat
As the title of this article suggests, it is a struggle to do as Jesus commands. Even Jesus had a ‘bit of hell’ when he went about the town trying to do the works of Mercy. If he healed someone, someone else complained. If he talked to someone, someone else got jealous. Well, what Jesus did not do was give up or give in to the bad behaviors. But at times he did distance himself from them by getting on a boat to get some space. Jesus also knew that not everyone would be ready to receive him when he showed up. As we see with St. Paul, conversion is in God’s time and God’s time alone so we must not be disturbed but be patient.
A great consolation came this week when my most challenging child told me how she was driven with zeal at the conversion of her friend who was half hindu and half Catholic. She told her friend that Jesus says she can only have one God. And she said she would be happy with her life if her friend would be God’s alone. Well, maybe Jesus is doing His work in spite of my struggles, His seed that He planted is watered and growing even when I feel I am working in vain. He is faithful. So let us act in total confidence in the Father when we do our small part and let it go back to Him.
Father SHOW ME how to SHOW UP!
The truth is I don’t know what to do about the homeless in my neighborhood but I do know somehow God will SHOW ME how to SHOW UP for them. So instead of praying “Lord I pray for the homeless in my neighborhood” I need to add “Lord I pray for you to show me how you want me to be a good neighbor to them.”
I was reminded in the “Glory Story” of the Gospel on 5 fingers that Mother Theresa’s own mother told her about. She remembered the Gospel in five words “YOU. DID. IT. TO. ME.” Let us pray for courage this Lent to walk with Jesus among the poor, even those in our own homes, relying not on ourselves but the one who sent us!
Check out Glory Stories Saint CD’s by Holy Heroes
They are a bit expensive in my mind but would be a great Easter gift. I can tell you they are written for engaging your kids in the core of the story and experience of the Saints. It would be worth the investment and you could do an exchange with friends to get access to more stories.